Metal great Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead dead at 70

Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister onstage in Germany in November.

Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister onstage in Germany in November.

(Andreas Gebert / EPA)

The metal community shook late Monday with news that singer, bassist and songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister from the influential British metal band Motörhead had died. He was 70.

The news was confirmed Monday by the band’s former publicist, who had been informed through a friend of the band. A short time later, Motörhead released a statement on Facebook.

“There is no easy way to say this…our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer. He had learnt of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favorite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made it’s way down the street, with his family.

“We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.”


Lemmy first picked up a guitar at 16, after being among those who caught the early Beatles at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. He later was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix. In the early ‘70s, he spent four years in the space-rock band Hawkwind before being forced out in 1975, which led to his formation of the power-trio Motörhead.

“I was fired out of every other band I was ever in, so I had to start my own group,” Kilmister told The Times in 2010. “They couldn’t fire me out of that.”

Leading Motörhead, Lemmy cut an imposing figure with his mutton-chop sideburns and handlebar mustache as he sang hard-hitting songs into a microphone tilted down from above his head. The band was known for a loud-and-fast sound, exemplified with the 1980 favorite “Ace of Spades.”

In her 2015 memoir “Reckless,” the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde wrote, “True to the ethos of rock, Lemmy was forever unchanging. It’s one of those inexplicable phenomena inherent to rock stars, the opposite of reinvention.

“Wherever he may be, he remains in a pub off St. Luke’s Road, the actual location totally irrelevant. Not so much time travel, as untravel.”

“Lost one of my best friends, Lemmy, today,” wrote Ozzy Osbourne on Twitter on Monday. “He will be sadly missed. He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side.”

Read more from me on Twitter: @chrisbarton.